Turkish unions demand access to 1977 massacre site

Unions announce that they will celebrate Labor Day at Istanbul's Taksim Square depite possible restrictions

Unions announce that they will celebrate Labor Day at Istanbul's Taksim Square depite possible restrictions

ISTANBUL - Some of Turkey’s biggest workers’ unions are demanding access to the "sacred" site of a 1977 massacre in Istanbul for May 1 Labour Day celebrations despite facing a potential ban by the authorities

“We are here to declare that we will be at Taksim Square on 1 May to celebrate Labor Day,” the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions, the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions, the Turkish Chamber of Architects and Engineers and the Turkish Medical Association said in a statement on Thursday.

DISK chairman, Kani Beko, said that the square is a “sacred place” for them and insisted that celebrations will take place in Taksim despite the possiblity that the authorities may not permit the event.  

In 1977, 36 people were killed when unknown gunmen opened fire, causing a stampede at a May Day rally in Taksim Square. The site was declared off-limits for 1st May celebrations until 2010. Last year, due to extensive construction work at the site, the Turkish government did not permit the rally to take place; unions insisted on marching to the site but were stopped by the security forces.

Beko said that "the construction work is finished there and authorities have no excuse to deny them this site", adding that so far they have not received a response to a request to meet Istanbul provincial governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu.

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